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The University of Michigan Prison Creative Arts Project, University of Michigan Carceral State Project, and Literati Bookstore are delighted to welcome Ebony Roberts to the Ann Arbor District Library’s Downtown Branch in support of her new memoir, The Love Prison Made and Unmade: My Story. Ebony will be in conversation with Ashley Lucas, Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan. A Q&A and book signing will follow.
About the book: Ebony grew up in Detroit in the 1980s. As a little girl she witnessed her parents’ brutal physical fights, often fueled by her father’s alcoholism. Then one day her father tried to kill her mother right before her eyes. That day she vowed she’d find a love she didn’t have to run from.
Ebony’s experiences as a child shaped her views on love and set the pattern for her future romantic relationships. Despite her determination not to repeat her parents’ mistakes—she would have a fairytale love—Ebony found herself drawn to bad boys: men who cheated; men who verbally abused her; men who disappointed her. Finally fed up, she swore to wait for the partner God chose for her.
Then she met Shaka Senghor, a man in prison for second-degree murder. Though she felt an intense spiritual connection, Ebony struggled with the idea that this man behind bars could be the love God had for her. Ultimately she ignored other people’s fears and took a chance on Shaka. Through letters and visits, the two fell deeply in love. Almost from the start Shaka and Ebony dreamed about their happily-ever-after. Once Shaka came home, they thought the worst was behind them. But Shaka’s release was the beginning of the end.
The Love Prison Made and Unmade is heartfelt. It reveals powerful lessons about love, sacrifice, courage, and forgiveness; of living your highest principles and learning not to judge someone by their worst acts. Ultimately, it is a stark reminder of the emotional cost of American justice on human lives—the partners, wives, children, and friends—beyond the prison walls.
Ebony Roberts is a writer, researcher, educator, and activist. A former school administrator, she has taught at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. Ebony recently served as program director for #BeyondPrisons, an organization designed to uplift the voices of those impacted by the criminal justice system. She received her BA in Social Relations and Psychology, and a Ph.D in Educational Psychology from Michigan State University.